October 2018

Harbour Update - posted 30/10/18

There was some good open water coverage today as another school bird boat headed out in the cold NW wind. The highlight being the first 6 Goldeneye of the winter to return with 3 off Goathorn and 3 in central harbour. There was also a marked increase in Red-breasted Merganser with c50 present across South Deep and Central Harbour. There were c150 Brent Geese back with some on the Baiter shoreline and c40 on Studland Beach. On Shipstal, Arne c30 Spoonbill were roosting. In Lytchett Bay 2 Marsh Harrier were over Lytchett Fields. In Studland Bay there were 6 Black-necked Grebe, 12 Common Scoter and 5 Great Crested Grebe. Brands Bay held 65 Pintail, 185 Wigeon, 40 Avocet, 10 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 144 Black-tailed Godwit and 223 Dunlin. A nice urban record of a Marsh Harrier over Poole Town, near the Lighthouse Art Centre was noteworthy. From Coombe Heath, Arne a Merlin dashed through the Middlebere Channel upsetting and aggravating the c200 Avocet that were roosting when a/the Hen Harrier arrived to chip in with the chaos. A nocturnal lamping session was carried out in the lower Frome Valley in the hope of ringing the first Woodcock of the winter, however it proved fruitless with only 2 Common Snipe seen across the entire area!

Brent Goose - Studland Bay - Phyl England

Harbour Update - posted 29/10/18

Despite the good conditions vis-mig was pretty poor, although the conditions also looked perfect for the first big Woodpigeon migration of the late autumn but it didn’t materialise sadly. However if any similar conditions occur over the next 2 weeks then we could see many thousands of Woodpigeon migrate high across Poole Harbour from the east, usually appearing from over the top of Evening Hill. There was evidence of more Fieldfare having arrived with good numbers at Middlebere again and there were 41 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 7 Spotted Redshank in the end of the Middlebere Channel. Hen Harrier were seen at Middlebere, Swineham and Lytchett Fields with one of them being a new arrival in to the harbour in the shape of a young ringtail male bombing around Poole Harbour west.

Fieldfare - Middlebere - Ian Ballam

Hen Harrier - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 28/10/18

Another fine but chilly day which seems to only look as if its going to last a few more days before warmer weather from the west arrives later in the week. With these clear sky’s and big bright moonlit nights its no surprise that winter thrush’s such as Redwing and Fieldfare were more conspicuous today, certainly at Arne where good flocks of both were seen in the hedgerows at dawn along with several Brambling and a Firecrest in the car park. There were 41 Spoonbill out on Shipstal and 100+ Brent Geese in Arne Bay along with 300+ roosting Oystercatcher on Shipstal Spit. There was also some thrush passage at Lytchett Bay with 60+ Redwing and 20+ Fieldfare. In the Frome Valley just a single Cattle Egret was feeding in with cattle along Swanage Road which is nice, but considering there’s currently a flock of 50+ over at Abbotsbury we’re sure they wouldn’t mind at the Swannery if we borrowed at least 20 for a week or so! Last night we also witnessed some amazing nocturnal migration using our Pulsar XQ50 Thermal Imaging scope. Although it doesn’t allow you to positively ID each bird flying over it does give you an insight as to how intense migration is on certain nights. We saw on twitter the evening before that a huge number of birds had been seen (via a radar track) leaving the Dutch coast, heading in a SW direction towards the UK. So, we thought we see if we could see any moving last night and we were astonished at just how many birds were on the move, although so high that that there was no chance of being able to hear them, even when using our sensate sound recording equipment. What’s even more amazing is when you consider that we were only looking at one patch of sky and that there must have been thousands more birds passing over other areas too. A true nocturnal spectacle.

Eurasian Spoonbill - Brownsea Lagoon - Nick Gadenne

Harbour Update - posted 27/10/18

Today we went out on a survey boat to check the Wareham Channel, Brownsea Lagoon, Frome Valley and open areas of the harbour. Despite the cold wind it was extremely productive with 57 species logged with highlights including the ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 adult female Marsh Harrier, 209 Avocet, 46 Spoonbill, 134 Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 21 Greenshank, 650 Oystercatcher, 280 Cormorant, 7 Little Grebe, 12 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and smaller totals of expected over-wintering species such as Wigeon, Teal, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew etc. Great White Egrets were seen at Shipstal, Arne and over Studland heath leaving the Little Sea roost. A Red Kite drifted low over Lytchett Fields. At Lytchett Bay 20 Fieldfare flew over at dawn and in the bay were 34 Avocet and the first Brent Goose of the winter for Lytchett Bay. The ringtail Hen Harrier made several other appearances too and was seen in Middlebere, just below the Coombe Heath viewpoint and also out on Hartland. At dawn a Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier were in Poole Harbour west near the mouth of the Frome. Also in Middlebere were 100+ Fieldfare, a Peregrine, c500 Black-tailed Godwit, c500 Avocet and 100 Lapwing.

Harbour Update - posted 26/10/18

It was more about the totals todays and with the constant run of northerly winds its no surprise that wader and wildfowl numbers are increasing nicely. In Holes Bay NE the Wigeon flock had reached 854 and there were just under 1000 Black-tailed Godwit roosting there too plus a group of 16 Shoveler had arrived too. There were also 200 Lapwing on Lytchett Fields which was an autumn/winter high count this season and also a Marsh Harrier and Water Pipit out on the fields. At Arne it looks as if the over-wintering flock of Spoonbill will be around 40 birds, which was the count on Shipstal today, but there could be other roosting elsewhere the over-wintering flock could be just over 40.

Harbour Update - posted 25/10/18

It was another good morning for visible migration along the Ballard ridge near Glebelands. Yet again it was a NNW wind but it still produced some good totals including 19 Brambling and 21 Crossbill along with 1 Woodlark, 204 Chaffinch, 219 Goldfinch, 85 Siskin, 11 Reed Bunting, and smaller numbers of Redwing, Song Thrush and Skylark. The ringtail Hen Harrier was still out over Slepe Heath/Hartland area and 2 Merlin were commuting between Middlebere and Hartland. The Fieldfare flock at Middlebere had reached over 100 and there were c300 Avocet, c1000 Black-tailed Godwit, 150 Lapwing, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Water Pipit, 1 Marsh Harrier and a fly over Woodlark. On Little Sea, Studland a Goosander was feeding which is the first record of this species here for 10 years and could hopefully be attributed to the cleaning of the lake due to the Carp removal NT have been carrying out over the last 4 years. Also there was the Great White Egret again. In the Arne overflow car park there were 2 Firecrest. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 24 Spoonbill, 7 Greenshank, 24 Grey Plover and c20 Knot.

Brambling - Calls of Autumn Migrants - Glebelands, Ballard - 25/10/18 @ 07:44

Crossbills and wingbeats - Calls of Autumn Migrants - Glebelands, Ballard - 25/10/18 @ 07:54

Firecrest - RSPB Arne

Harbour Update - posted 24/10/18

Quieter today but the arrival of an adult male Hen Harrier on Hartland briefly mid morning made things exciting, although sadly it disappeared off towards Corfe Castle after having a wash and wasn’t seen again. Later in the afternoon yesterdays ringtail female Hen Harrier was out on Hartland with 1 Merlin perched up on a stump. Out on Arne Moors (viewed from Slepe Heath) another 2 Merlin were seen with catching a Meadow Pipit supper just before sunset. On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit and another on Holton Pools and a late Ruff was also on Lytchett Fields. At Arne a female Brambling was feeding behind the visitors centre in car park with Chaffinch and another was at Sunnyside Farm in a Chaffinch/Linnet flock. In Middlebere there were 3 Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, c400 Black-tailed Godwit, c150 Avocet, 123 Lapwing, 96 Redshank, 10 Dunlin, 293 Wigeon, 4 Pintail, 1 Merlin, 1 Marsh Harrier and 46 Fieldfare.

Water Pipit - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 23/10/18

Today was a classic autumn day with a good range of autumn passage migrants and newly arrived winter arrivals. The day began with a visible-migration session up at the Glebelands end of Ballard where quite a bit was on the move despite the strong westerly wind. Highlights included 1 Woodlark, 18 Crossbill, 3 (probably more) Brambling, 102 Siskin, 144 Linnet, 280 Chaffinch and 2 Peregrine causing small groups of Wood Pigeon hassle. Another vis-mig session was carried out at South Haven too where it was slightly quieter with 10 Crossbill the highlights but also a Black-throated Diver entered the harbour at dawn as did 58 Shag and 7 Red-breasted Merganser. On the Wareham to Stoborough causeway the 2 Cattle Egret were on the east side next to the road. On Slepe (and then Hartland) a freshly arrived adult female Hen Harrier was quartering over the heath where a Merlin was logged at dusk along with a Short-eared Owl out near Arne Moors too. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was a Great White Egret, 30 Spoonbill, 1 Peregrine and c400 Avocet. In the Lower Piddle Valley near Wareham train station a flock of 46 Lesser Redpoll were feeding in an Alder Tree which is a good count considering they’ve been non-existent this autumn. In Middlebere the separated over wintering flocks of both Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit have almost reached peak counts with c500 of each this afternoon. At the mouth of the Middlebere track a flock of 56 Fieldfare were moving through the area.

Crossbills - Calls of Autumn Migrants at Dawn - Glebelands, Ballard 23/10/18 @ 08:37

 Woodlark - Call of Autumn Migrant at Dawn - Glebelands, Ballard 23/10/18 @ 08:52

Harbour Update - posted 22/10/18
Harbour Update - posted 21/10/18

Quick update today with a Yellow-browed Warbler up on Ballard Down, Great White Egrets at Lytchett Fields and Little Sea, Studland.

Harbour Update - posted 20/10/18

Another blissful day with the sun beating down (after the fog cleared) which although was beautiful, wasn’t very productive for birding. A/the Great White Egret was on Little Sea, Studland mid-morning. Around Middlebere and Hartland the first decent Fieldfare flock was seen with 46 altogether with Mistle Thrush and Redwing mixed in with them. A vis-mig session at South Haven saw 2 Crossbill, 15 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Skylark, 31 Siskin, 3 Bullfinch, 3 Jay, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Snipe and 40 Cormorant migrate across and into the harbour mouth. On Brownsea there were 3 Spotted Redshank but just a single Spoonbill with the rest (40+) on Shipstal, Arne.

Harbour Update - posted 19/10/18

It seems the days are getting warmer, not colder and with the harbour yet again like a mill pond you could have been mistaken for thinking it was a mid May morning today. However the presence to 2 Whooper Swan that passed of Lytchett Bay and Holton Lee provided the autumnal feel that’s so desperately needed. There was also the first decent return of Red-breasted Merganser with 16 in South Deep off the southern Brownsea shoreline along with 41 Spoonbill and 18 Brent Geese on Shipstal, 23 Great Crested Grebe in central harbour, c400 Avocet, 2 Sanderling and 1 Peregrine on the lagoon and 2 Sandwich Tern in the mouth of Middlebere. At Hatch Pond the Cetti’s Warbler was still calling and there, a Kingfisher was present and there were 4 Great Crested Grebe on the lake. At Middlebere a Marsh Harrier passed over and 4 late Swallow dashed through. There were actually 3 Marsh Harrier in the harbour today (2 immature males and a female) which ridiculously is the best day total for Marsh Harrier since January 26th this year according to local harrier watcher Peter Hadrill. On Hartland there was a late Wheatear, 20+ Dartford Warbler enjoying the sun and 2 Woodlark. At South Haven a Great White Egret flew over the boardwalk and a vis-mig session provided 1 Woodlark, 1 Brambling, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 96 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Bullfinch, 3 Lesser Redpoll and 30 Jackdaw as the highlights.

Harbour Update - posted 18/10/18

Well, we thought the vis-mig would pick up and it certainly did. The main area watched/counted this morning was South Haven, Studland which logged 88 Song Thrush, 13 Redwing and 39 Meadow Pipit as well as many hundreds of Chaffinch, Linnet, Siskin and Goldfinch with singles of Yellowhammer and Woodlark too. Amazingly 66 Spoonbill were counted on Shipstal Point, Arne. Where another 11 have turned up from is anyone’s guess but with 75 logged on Oct 19th last year, will we see a late surge and yet another record-breaking year for Spoonbill? Yet again the 2 Cattle Egret were on the west side of the Wareham to Stoborough causeway. At Lytchett Fields 45 Skylark migrated over the site during the morning and there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 8 Greenshank, 120+ Redshank and c50 Black-tailed Godwit on the fields. At Holton Pools a flock of 11 Crossbill flew low across in front of the hide and a Peregrine and a Marsh Harrier had a bit of a tussle too. At Middlebere the autumns first Fieldfare were seen with 15 along the lane also 11 Mistle Thrush, 6 Bullfinch, 73 Wigeon, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot, 1 White Wagtail and a Merlin was on Hartland again.

Peregrine - Holton Pools - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 17/10/18

The forecast looks good for some visible migration at coastal watch points over the next week or so. With thrush’s, finches, wagtails, pipits and larks on the move, a watch at dawn can be quite spectacular especially at places like South Haven or Ballard Down. Today the first Red-breasted Mergansers were also looked with 5 out in South Deep, off the south shore of Brownsea along with 3 Black-necked Grebe. A Great White Egret was seen on Little Sea, Studland mid afternoon.  From Poole Quay the Kingfisher was seen again near our HQ and 3 Swallow passed over. At Hatch Pond another Kingfisher was seen and a Cetti’s Warbler was heard. Between the harbour mouth and Brownsea 20+ Swallow and 16+ House Martin flew through. And at Baiter there were 11 Turnstone and a Carrion Crow doing its best to disguise its self as a Magpie. On Hartland a female Merlin was in the centre of the moor at dawn, and just 1 Marsh Harrier came out of the roost.

Turnstone - Baiter - John Pick

Carrion Crow - Baiter - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 16/10/18

The forecast yesterday looked good for a vis-mig session, but at the last minuet the temperature rose quite substantially, enough so that a thick blanket of fog descended up the harbour by late evening. However all was not lost as another Yellow-browed Warbler was found along the coast path from South Beach at Ballard Down and in the gloom a Hawfinch passed over heading NE. There were also some other finches on the move with c30 Siskin, c50 Goldfinch, c30 Linnet, 4 Greenfinch and 2 Chaffinch over along with 5 Skylark, 9 Blackcap, 7 Chiffchaff, c40 Meadow Pipit, 3 Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting passing through and over the area. Several good contenders for freshly arrived Continental Robin were also ringed at our ringing site during the morning too. A moth trapping session as part of our two-year Moths of Poole Harbour study caught the projects first Clifden Nonpareil. On Hartland the Cuckoo that was found on Saturday was still hanging about on SW corner of the moor where there was also a late Common Redstart. On Shipstal Point, a high count for this autumn/winter of 45 Spoonbill were counted. It seems the female Merlin on Hartland is pretty settled and has been seen out in the centre of the moor for almost a week now. A Woodlark passed over Sunnyside at dawn and in the Frome Valley 3 Cattle Egret were next to the railway line up near Holmebridge. 

Continental Robin - Ballard Down 

Clifden Nonpareil - Ballard Down

Harbour Update - posted 15/10/18

With the large number of Yellow-browed Warbler arriving into the UK last week its no surprise that they’re now beginning to trickle in to Dorset and today another was found in the harbour, this time in the PC World drain, next to KFC at Wessex Gate retail park. Not necessarily the first place you’d think of to look for a rare/scarce bird but amazingly today’s was actually the 5th Yellow-browed Warbler to be found at this funny/weird little site in just three years! There were also 3 Blackcap, 3 Common Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Grey Wagtail there today too. Up on Hartland a Firecrest was in a Long-tailed Tit flock which has prompted us to acknowledge that this autumn Goldcrest are virtually nowhere to be seen. Is anyone else seeing any? The harbour’s first Ring Ouzel of the autumn was seen along the track of Middlebere and Marsh Harriers were at Middlebere, Lytchett Bay and Swineham (all possibly the same birds).  At Lytchett Fields another Firecrest was near the waterworks and out on the fields were c150 Black-tailed Godwit, c40 Dunlin and 60 Meadow Pipit.

Yellow-browed Warbler - PCW Drain - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 14/10/18

A fairly grim start to the day which eventually cleared thankfully, but there wasn’t much reported over the course of the day. At Middlebere there were 105 Avocet, c200 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Spotted Redshank, 35 Lapwing, 21 Curlew and a Wheatear. In Upton CP there were 2 Firecrest and in both Holes Bay and Lytchett Bay drake pintail were logged arriving in. On and around Hartland Moor there was still 1 female Merlin and a Peregrine with still only 2 Marsh Harrier coming out of the west Poole Harbour roost. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Spotted Redshank and along Soldiers Road 3 tardy Swallow. On the Wareham to Stoborough causeway the 2 Cattle Egret were again feeding in amongst the cows on the west side of the road.

Harbour Update - posted 13/10/18

We’ve said this numerous times this year but the warm weather seems to be impacting a range of biodiversity across the harbour, even this late in the year. Today in the late afternoon, early evening it was 22 degrees, which for mid October is a crazy temperature. More average would be 14 degrees so with this in mind it was amazing that we found a Smooth Snake out on a heathland near Hartland this afternoon, which is a species that normally goes into hibernation in October. Also, a late Cuckoo was photographed up on Hartland which is about two-weeks later than normal. Also out and around Hartland was a female Merlin, 1 Hobby still and a Peregrine with both immature male and female Marsh Harrier out over the Wareham Channel. Out on Shipstal Point, Arne the Spoonbill flock is staying consistent at 40 birds…will we see it increase at all? With the wind still fairly steady this morning another sea watch was attempted with only 1 Diver sp (likely Great Northern Diver), 2 Brent Geese and 2 Gannet the birds of note. At the Wareham by pass the 2 Cattle Egret were seen again to the west of the bridge amongst the cattle. At Lytchett Fields there were c200 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 5 Green Sandpiper, 1 Knot and 1 Spotted Redshank and at Holton Pools the Kingfishers are kindly continuing to satisfy the numerous visiting photographers.

Smooth Snake - Hartland Moor

Harbour Update - posted 12/10/18

With a strong southerly wind blowing it made sense to attempt a Branksome sea watch which would be the first of the season. It was surprisingly productive with one (possibly two) distant Skua sp, most likely Arctic, 1 Eider, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Dunlin, 1 Curlew, 11 Med Gull, 5 Brent Geese and 26 Gannet. At Middlebere there were singles of Marsh Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine and still 2 Spotted Redshank.

Harbour Update - posted 11/10/18

A really great mix of birds today which included a ringtail Hen Harrier on Hartland, although it didn’t look to stick around, also 2 Merlin, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hobby and a Peregrine seen there too. On the Wareham bypass 2 Cattle Egret was seen with the cows again near the causeway. In Holes Bay NE 2 Green Sandpiper over were possibly a site first, also 700+ Black-tailed Godwit and 50+ Dunlin present. On Sunnyside Pools there were 2 Green Sandpiper and at Lytchett Fields 1 Spotted Redshank, 200+ Redshank, 8 Greenshank, 4 Green Sandpiper, 700+ Teal, 150 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Knot. On the Brownsea Lagoon Avocet numbers saw a marked increase with c500 present. In Middlebere there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 30 Avocet and 1 Peregrine.

Harbour Update - posted 10/10/18

How warm is it? With the forecast predicting 22 degrees today its no surprise many autumn vis-mig species are so low in numbers…they still think its mid-summer! Normally by now species such as Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, Linnet and Siskin are passing in good numbers along Ballard and South Haven however numbers so far have been minimal. We really need a good cold snap to bring things back into sync and to prompt some birds to get moving. That said, a flock of 10 Barnacle Geese over Sunnyside Farm was a good record. The/a Cattle Egret was again near the Wareham Causeway, although further west towards the bypass. On Brownsea 8 Spoonbill were still present but later moved over to Arne and there were also 5 Spotted Redshank on Brownsea along with 26 Curlew, 11 Grey Plover, 10 Greenshank, 119 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 397 Avocet, 18 Shoveler and 8 Wigeon. There was a Merlin on Coombe Heath and another (or the same) on Hartland Moor and a Firecrest in the Arne car park. There was a Wheatear at Lytchett Fields along with 1 Knot, 16 Dunlin and 200+ Redshank in Lytchett Bay. At Lytchett Heath a ringing session at dawn to monitor Bearded Tit numbers in the reedbed saw 23 caught (15 new and 8 re-traps).

Male and female Bearded Tit - Lytchett Heath - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 09/10/18

Just like buses, you wait a couple of weeks for a Yellow-browed Warbler and then two come along at once. This morning a second in two days was ringed up on Ballard along with 26 Chiffchaff and 23 Blackcap. With the wind swinging westerly thrush passage dropped off and only 4 each of Redwing and Song Thrush were logged over Lytchett Heath. At Holton Pools a Marsh Harrier drifted in front of the hide and at Shipstal the Spoonbill flock stood at 32.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 08/18/18

Unlike most passage migrants that pass through the harbour in both spring and autumn there are some that just pass through during the latter part of the year and can sum up Autumn migration all on their own. One of those species is Yellow-browed Warbler, a bird that was once considered an extreme rarity but is now a regular migrant each October. Although several had appeared across the UK in recent weeks, it was no where near as ‘busy’ with YBW this autumn compared to recent years….that was until today. An estimated 500 turned up across the UK, mostly along the east coast but one did manage to trickle its way down to us with one ringed and logged moving through Ballard Down. With so many in the UK now (and more probably arriving) its well worth keeping an eye and an ear out for these dinky autumn delights. Also logged moving through Ballard was 27 Chiffchaff, 44 Blackcap, 1 late Common Redstart, 1 Song Thrush but only 1 Goldfinch….where are the finches??? On Brownsea there were 8 Spoonbill and c350 Avocet and later 8 Spoonbill were also in Lytchett Bay including colour-ringed bird ‘AE’ which was ringed in Holland in 2006 and has been seen regularly in Lytchett Bay/Poole harbour since 2013. Lytchett also had its first Merlin of the autumn. In Wareham at least 1 Cattle Egret remained along the causeway. A nocturnal sound recording session at Holton Lee saw thrush passage increase slightly with almost equal amounts of Redwing (45 calls) and Song Thrush (42 calls) passing over during the course of the night.

Eight Spoonbill - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 07/10/18

Spring was back again today; although the gentle northerly breeze kept a certain autumn feel to the proceedings. That said, by mid afternoon it was almost another balmy October day. The highlight from today included a Short-eared Owl seen in Middlebere at dawn. There seem to be quite a few arriving at coastal sites across the UK so hopefully it will become an ‘SEO’ winter and even if this one was just a migrant passing through, we could see more arrive in coming weeks. Hartland Moor and Middlebere are good places to look at dawn and dusk. The Cattle Egrets were seen again on and off at the Wareham Causeway, gorging on insects on and around the cattle herd. The first 24 Brent Geese of the autumn were on Shipstal Point, Arne and a minimum of 39 Spoonbill were logged during the Poole Harbour WeBS count today. A Marsh Harrier and 2 Peregrine were in Middlebere and a Merlin was on Hartland. Vis-mig was slow but there was an obvious passage of Skylark with 40+ over Soldiers Road heading north. At Littlesea Studland 2 Great White Egret were also logged during the WeBS count and at Lytchett Fields there was a single White Wagtail. At Swineham Chiffchaff and a few Goldcrest were enjoying the sun and a flock of 5 Greenshank were on the floodplain.

Newly arrived Brent Goose flock - Shipstal Point, Arne

Wigeon - Holes Bay NE - Rene Goad

Dartford Warbler - Upton Heath - Rene Goad

Harbour Update – posted 06/10/18

At last there has been some nocturnal migration with birds (mainly thrush) arriving from the north. Last night over Holton lee we logged 37 Song Thrush calls and 7 Redwing calls, meaning the thrush invasion will begin building up nicely over the coming weeks. Despite the wet and the wind, it actually cleared quite quickly by early afternoon when 2 Cattle Egret were found next to the road on the Wareham to Stoborough causeway. It goes to show how times are changing when 2 Cattle Egret are spotted out of the car window and you barely raise an eyebrow, which is exactly what happened. Over the last two winters, Cattle Egret have become increasingly regular with flocks containing up to 20 birds in other areas of the country, and its our predication that this winter and following winters (and perhaps summers) Cattle Egret will soon become an expected sighting on a days out birding around the harbour. At Lytchett Fields there wasn’t much change with 104 Redshank, 12 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank on the high tide. Around the urban areas Baiter saw 22 Oystercatcher, 19 Turnstone, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Sandwich Tern whilst at Poole Park a count of 32 Coot almost certainly suggests some new arrivals had settled there now for the winter. On Brownsea just a handful of Spoonbill were present and c250 AvocetThere was also a nice mix of waders on Holton Pools during the rain with both Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Green Sandpiper and a Redshank.

Cattle Egret - Wareham Causeway - Jol Mitchell

Redwing - Call of passing night migrant - Holton Lee 06/10/18 @ 01:47 

Harbour Update – posted 05/10/18

It’s always good fun trying to take a large school group out on a bird boat when a dense thick fog sets across the harbour. Without being able to see where the water ended and the skyline began our school group were treated to one of the most eerie voyages we’d ever done as various vessels appeared out of the gloom like ghost ships. That said, by midday (and just as the trip ended) the fog cleared giving way to another balmy, hot early October day.  With the sun beating down, the late summer migrants wouldn’t feel out of place with 2 each of Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail enjoying them selves at Sunnyside Pools and a light trickle of Swallow going over for most of the day. A late Grasshopper Warbler was ringed at Lytchett Heath and at Middlebere there was 3 Spotted Redshank, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Grey Plover, c50  Avocet and 12 Wigeon. On our Brownsea Lagoon webcam a flock of 25 Spoonbill dropped in around 2pm and the Peregrine was sat on the Tamarisk Island for most of the day.

Harbour Update – posted 04/10/18

Things were a bit quieter today but it was good to hear that 2 Merlin were back out on Hartland Moor, sparing with one another. These may just be migrants passing through or could be over-wintering birds returning but regardless, by late October/early November that area is a good place to try and see Merlin. There were also 2 different Marsh Harrier out over Arne Moors and there were 35 Spoonbill on Shipstal, Arne but just singles of Spotted Redshank and Greenshank in Middlebere. Seeing common birds in ‘odd places’ can usually be expected this time of year and a Coot in Holes Bay NE was actually a first for many years in that area, plus there were also c150 Black-tailed Godwit and 300+ Wigeon.

Coot - Holes Bay - NE 

Harbour Update – posted 03/10/18

Early October normally sees a transition of migrants from warblers and chats to finches and thrush’s. We’re currently right at the beginning of that transition and any night now thrush passage should pick as mainly Song Thrush, Redwing and Blackbird arrive from the north with finches hopefully becoming more conspicuous at dawn. This morning a ringing session on Lytchett heath saw a mixture of both mid-autumn and late autumn passage with 3 Blackcap and 24 Chiffchaff still being ringed but also a light passage of Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch overhead along with 4 migrating Mistle Thrush and a couple of Song Thrush. Also ringed during the ringing session was 1 Firecrest, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting and a mixture of common species. This evening a large flock of c650 alba Wagtail also roosted at Lytchett Heath. In Holes Bay NE there were 381 Wigeon, 4 adult Yellow-legged Gull and a single Knot. In Poole Park a Sandwich Tern opted for an easier meal by fishing in the main boating lake. In Middlebere there were 150+ Avocet, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank and 3 Spoonbill and on Shipstal 32 Spoonbill. Several winter Kingfisher are now back on territory with birds regularly being seen at Holton Pools, Holes Bay NW near the PC World outflow, Brownsea Lagoon and hopefully soon Poole Park!

Firecrest - Lytchett Heath - Shaun Robson

Cetti's Warbler - Lytchett Heath - Paul Morton


Harbour Update - posted 02/10/18

There was a distinct autumnal feel today as a fresh westerly wind kicked in early on. A few passerines were on the move up on Ballard but due to cloud cover and wind direction, not in any significant numbers with c30 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, c50 alba Wagtail, 7 Skylark, 1 Wheatear, 30 Goldfinch, 6 Linnet, c50 Swallow, c70 House Martin, 1 Sparrowhawk and a single Golden Plover all heading west. In Studland bay the first 4 Black-necked Grebe of the winter were back along with 7 Common Scoter, also 1 Gannet and a male Kestrel arrived in off the sea from out in Poole Bay. In Brands Bay a great early autumn find of 3 Goosander was unusual as cold weather is usually the trigger for this species to occur in open areas of the harbour. Also in Brands Bay were 13 Wigeon, 3 Pintail, 2 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and just 4 Black-tailed Godwit. At Middlebere there were 4 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 65 Redshank, 15 Lapwing, 4 Avocet, 10 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Wigeon, 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 Wheatear. In Holes Bay NE an adult Caspian Gull was reported and photographed which is accepted will only be the 2nd Poole Harbour record. At Sunnyside Pools a Red Kite drifted towards Hartland Moor.

With winter bird numbers now increasing, it’s important that we (the public) keep disturbance down to an absolute minimum. With the most sensitive sites such as Middlebere, Holes Bay North and Brands Bay being so vital for feeding birds its key to remember these are labelled ‘over-wintering bird sensitive areas’ and that disturbing birds in those areas can be detrimental to their survival over the course of the winter. The National Trust have recently put together a statement about protection in Brands Bay this winter which would be good for anyone visiting that site to read.....

Brands Bay is a very popular feeding ground for winter waders and wildfowl. The sheltered mudflats exposed at mid to low tide are a fundamental part of the designation of Poole Harbour as a site of international importance for birds.

These birds are quite nervous and are likely to take flight with any human or dog presence on the shoreline. Whilst this is not fatal itself, regular disturbance of birds can make them more susceptible to predation, both by weakening them and forcing them into the air.

This autumn and winter the National Trust are looking to reduce the amount of disturbance to wintering wildfowl in Brands Bay. Our team of staff and volunteers will be engaging visitors, looking to reduce human and dog presence on the shoreline.

We’d love to get an idea of how often the birds are disturbed this year – please email your observations to or text/message/send an image to 07483 929 544.

Harbour Update - posted 01/10/18

Autumn really getting underway now…well, kind of, with the first Redwing flying over Upton at dawn yesterday morning which had actually been recorded during a nocturnal listening station. The first 2 Merlin of the autumn were out on Hartland Moor at dawn, ‘sparing’ with one another and in the Wareham Channel 3 Marsh Harrier came out of the roost. Near Swineham a Whinchat was on a hay bale plus a minor bit of passage up the Frome Valley included c20 Meadow Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail, 10 each of Chaffinch and Goldfinch and 15 Swallow. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine (which took a Starling), 8 Greenshank, c50 Lapwing, 4 Common Snipe and 4 Green Sandpiper. At Sunnyside Pools the Black-tailed Godwit was still there and a Wheatear was in the fields. In Middlebere there were 388 Avocet and it seems Woodlark are dispersing to over-wintering sites with 3 seen in fields along Holme Lane and several in loose flocks on patches of heathland along the southern edge of the harbour near Hartland.

Harbour Update - posted 30/09/18

There seem to be good numbers of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit building in Middlebere with 350 Avocet and up to 750 Black-tailed Godwit present this afternoon. At Hatch Pond a small selection of winter duck had returned with several Gadwall and Tufted Duck on the water. In the PC World Drain several Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Kingfisher were counted. At Sunnyside 3 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Lapwing were around the pools. On Browsnea 11 Spoonbill were on the Tamarisk Island and 1 Spotted Redshank was out in front of the Lower Hide. Up on Ballard migration was rather slow but 18 Chiffchaff and 51 Blackcap were logged moving through the site.

Gadwall - Hatch Pond - Rene Goad


Harbour Update - posted 29/09/18

Today was a blissful autumn day where you could have easily been mistaken for it being an early spring morning with numerous Chiffchaff in full song. This is a regular occurrence mid-late autumn when fine weather hits us and Chiffchaff that are heading south start getting a bit confused. Migration really has been slow this autumn (and the rest of the year) and its times like these we’re glad we have plenty of ‘alternative’ areas of interest when migrants just aren’t present. With very little on the move the focus was more on a selection of species that had been arriving over the last couple of weeks. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were now 410 Avocet, 3 Spotted Redshank, 16 Greenshank and 24 Spoonbill. At South Haven there was a small passage of birds with just 2 Jays, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Skylark. At Holton Pools the Kingfisher was still performing well and there were 2 Greenshank and a passing Marsh Harrier there. On the Sunnyside Pool 5 Lapwing, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 17 Teal were logged.

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